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King County Elections

King County Elections
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Renton, WA 98057-2906

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  April 28, 2015 Special Election


King County

Simple majority (RCW 84.55.050)

Proposition No. 1
Regular Property Tax Levy for Emergency Public Safety Radio Network Replacement Project


The King County council passed Ordinance 17993 concerning funding for a new, upgraded regional emergency radio network. This proposition would provide funding to replace the current aging emergency radio network used for dispatching and communicating with police, fire and other first responders. The proposition would fund capital and transition costs as defined in Ordinance 17993 and would authorize King County to levy an additional regular property tax of $0.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for nine years with collection beginning in 2016. The 2015 levy amount would be used to compute limitations under Chapter 84.55 RCW for the eight succeeding years. Should this proposition be:



Approved
Rejected

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

This proposition would authorize King County to levy an additional regular property tax to replace the region’s current aging emergency public safety radio network, which is used primarily for dispatching public safety, police, fire, emergency medical staff and other first responders from jurisdictions across the County to incidents and for coordination among responders at the site of the incident. The current network was completed in 1997. It would be replaced with a new network to be referred to as the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (PSERN) that will provide improved coverage, capacity, and reliability.

Levy funds would be used for PSERN capital and transition costs, as defined in Ordinance 17993. Capital costs include planning, design, remodeling, construction, and equipping PSERN, and costs related to the issuance of bonds to help fund the project. Transition costs include operational costs to transition to the new network, costs to establish an entity to own and operate the network after project implementation, and payments to reduce the impact of increased rates for network users and prevent reductions in fire district services from levy prorationing as provided in interlocal agreements between the County and fire districts.

The proposed levy would be authorized for a nine-year period with collection beginning in 2016. During the first year, the tax would be levied at a rate of 7 cents ($0.07) or less per one thousand dollars ($1,000) of assessed valuation on all taxable property within King County. Annual increases for each of the succeeding eight years would be limited to the statutory rate in chapter 84.55 RCW.

For questions about this measure, contact: David Mendel, Emergency Radio System Project Director, 206-263-7942, david.mendel@kingcounty.gov

Statement For

Proposition 1, the Emergency Public Safety Radio Network Replacement Project, would allow King County to update our dangerously outdated emergency communications system for police, fire, Medic One, and other emergency first responders.

Our current system is decades old and was designed to serve a smaller population over a smaller area.  The system has dangerous gaps in coverage and forces firefighters and police to use different channels to communicate in emergencies which can cause critical delays.

For just over $2.00 per month for the median homeowner, we can replace this antiquated system and improve public safety across one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.  This new generation public safety communications system will be available to city, district, and county first responders improving coverage across King County.

Proposition 1 has the support of Sheriff John Urquhart, local police and fire chiefs, firefighters, and first responders, as well King County Executive Dow Constantine, the King County Council, and local Mayors and Councilmembers across the region.

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Your police, firefighters and first responders are unified: we must replace King County’s obsolete emergency radio system to better protect lives and property. Dangerous gaps in coverage prevent essential communication and coordination between emergency personnel, creating unacceptable risk.

Outdated technology developed in 1992 is inadequate in our fast-growing region. This modest levy will protect us for another generation— a modest but critical investment in our long term safety and peace of mind.

Please Vote Yes!

Submitted by: John Urquhart, Kathleen O’Toole, and John Marchione www.YesOnPublicSafety.org  

Statement Against

Fire District Commissioners serving citizens within unincorporated King County and the suburban cities within those fire districts support the need for a new radio system.

Residents within fire districts need to understand the potential negative financial impact that this Lid Lift funding method could have on your fire district that serves you for the next 9 years; should property values suddenly drop like they did in 2008.

If property values drop, fire districts could possibly be in a negative financial position and need to lay off fire fighters during the 9 year term of the PSERN (radio system) levy. 

Laying off Fire Fighters is unacceptable, especially when a comprehensive prorationing protection plan could have been implemented by the County Executive to stave off any possible staffing reductions by impacted fire districts.

The fiduciary responsibility of your Elected Fire Commissioners is to look out for you and your fire districts financial best interest! This levy lid lift is not in your long term best interest.

We, as elected fire commissioners, want you to know the facts as without a comprehensive pro-rationing protection plan your level of emergency service may be negatively affected. 

Know the Facts, Be informed, Vote Informed.

Rebuttal Of Statement For

We support the need for a new radio system! It is the funding model that is contrary to good public policy and public safety! It does not meet the fiduciary responsibility of fire districts.

Laying off fire fighters is totally unacceptable! It will put our citizens and their property at risk; this is especially true if a comprehensive pro-rationing protection plan is not implemented by the County Executive in an inter-local agreement with fire districts.

Submitted by: Mark Thompson and James A. Fossos, 253-344-1823

Complete Text of Resolution

Download the full text of the ordinance